Friday, April 18, 2008

Mac and Cheese, two ways

What kid doesn't love Mac and Cheese, it is great stuff. Although in the Dog house, expect to be corrected if you call it Mac and Cheese. Around here is is Macaroni and Cheese, anything thing else will be immediately disputed by Big Dog. While most kids will scarf down the electric orange powder coating, our kids think of that as some other thing. Macaroni and Cheese is homemade, creamy and rich.

For most of Big Dog's Macaroni and Cheese eating career, I followed Martha Stewart's classic, Martharoni. Delicious. The first time I made it for Big Dog he out and out rejected the baked breadcrumb crust. Insane, yes, but as a good mom, I just omitted the final baking steps and served it from the saucepan right after mixing the pasta and sauce.

Recently a co-worker told me about Fine Cooking Magazine. She raved about it in fact. Not being currently subscribed to any cooking magazines I decided to sign up. The first issue I received contained a recipe for, yep, you guessed it Macaroni and Cheese. I decided to give it a whirl. It took a few steps off the beaten path, it has thyme, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in the cheese sauce which sounded really interesting. And when I gave it a try, it was an instant hit. It is a little bolder than the other recipe and for some reason it makes me think of something that should be paired with a nice hoppy beer. Well, maybe not for the kids, but the adults should feel free to imbibe.

Recently the boys went nuts over a lasagna I made that had a crusty cheese topping, so I've been baking the Macaroni and Cheese with the breadcrumb topping. If Big Dog remembers disliking it or even being a bit suspicious of it, that doesn't show as he and Little Dog fight over the biggest piece of baked crusty topping.

Either way, these two recipes rock. They make a nice enough dinner for guests and the leftovers are great to have on hand for weekend lunches.

One of these days I'm planning on inviting a few of their buddies over for a Macaroni and Cheese tasting. We'll serve both and have them vote for their favorite. Just looking for an excuse for a party really, but I'll take what I can get.

Sorry I'm crapping out by linking this one, but it is much easier than transcribing it, since they've already done all that work for me.

Fine Cooking's Beer Cravin' Macaroni and Cheese
(from memory, so it may vary from the published recipe)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large sprig thyme plus 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (I never use the bay leaf, I don't have any in the house)
1 quart milk
4 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 oz Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (use the sharpest cheese you can get, it is worth it.)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I personally use 2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I used 1 tsp)
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb pasta of your chosen shape (I like penne, and I use whole wheat or Barilla's high protein pasta)

Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 9x13 oven safe pan.
In a large pan heat the butter until melted. Add the chopped onion and sweat until the onion is soft and translucent. When the onion is soft, add the flour, cooking until the flour loses the raw flavor and it sizzles slightly. Add the milk, whisking in about 1 cup at first to ensure the rue mixes well with the milk then adding the rest. Add the sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. Reduce the heat under the pan, but stir frequently until the sauce thickens. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes until the thyme and bay leaf have fully flavored the sauce, then remove the bay and thyme.
While the sauce is simmering, boil pasta and remove from pan about 1 minute before the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain and set aside.
Remove from the heat and add the cheese stirring until it has melted into the sauce and the sauce is smooth again. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
Mix the pasta and cheese sauce and pour into a buttered 9x13 pan.
In a smaller bowl mix the shredded Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and chopped thyme leaves. spread evenly over the cheese and pasta mixture in the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the bread crumb topping is golden and the cheese sauce is bubbly.

I like to serve this with steamed broccoli or peas. (well, the boys like me to serve it with peas, I hate them) Tonight I also serve it with rocket tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and kosher salt. I much preferred this combination, but the boys still heaped on the peas.


Anonymous said...

Great recipe.


super des said...

mmmm I heart Mac & Cheese, though the difference is mac & cheese is the easy stuff while Macaroni is this stuff - the good stuff.


Granola said...

This sounds delicious! I'm going to subscribe to your feed. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Mac and cheese is a total favorite around here. My recipe is a bit different from yours, but I think I'll give yours a try, it sounds yummy!

Anonymous said...

This is a great recipe. My daughter is so picky about Mac and cheese. She hates the boxed kind I buy so maybe she would eat this mac and cheese.
Shilo Beedy

Queen Mother said...

Yum. Can't wait to try these. I am enjoying reading your recipes.

Kaza said...

I assume the "beer cravin'" part of the title is your addition? ;) This sounds amazing. I just got a recipe for mac & cheese from a real Southern woman here in town, so I'll have to compare and share. It was the best I've ever had.

Love this blog too! I think I'm going to start a food blogs list tomorrow, and yours will be the first addition!